Mérida, Yucatán — Still stinging from competition from ride-sharing platforms, FUTV taxis and vans in the city are adding free wi-fi service by the end of the month.
Four units already are carrying a wireless internet connection under a pilot program. Eventually, the program might be implemented statewide, said an FUTV spokesman.
The project to install free internet in their units started two weeks ago as a test to verify its viability and profitability.
Passengers logging in to wi-fi can stay in communication on the internet or social media without tapping into their own data plans, which can be expensive. The idea borrows from restaurants that hand out wi-fi passwords the way they used to give away matchbooks.
This service comes with no extra charge and is included in the same travel rates.
The FUTV is also looking into installing USB smartphone charging stations for riders.
There is a reason the taxistas are taking a harder look at newer technology.
The old-line taxis have been competing with Uber since March, and now passengers summon cars and pay for them with a smartphone app.
In the Centro, Ubers typically arrive in minutes, and all the while its app displays a moment-by-moment graphical report of the car’s whereabouts. Standing on the curb and flagging down a cab is not a consumer’s only option. And neither is calling a central-dispatch system, only to be told to call back in 20 minutes.
This is the shiny new alternative the old-school taxi drivers are dealing with.